A PHOTO FOR FRIDAY | 8


I started the week in a wonderful way, still soaking up the sun in the South of France. This sunset, on our last night, yielded a beautifully cloudless sky which was perfect for a little stargazing – I saw my friend shooting star…and another two after that!

It’s been hard to get back in the swing of things after such a relaxing holiday. I can’t concentrate at all! There were a few difficult months last year where nausea, panic attacks and pins and needles would come in waves. Thankfully those worries are long gone, but in their place is a type of positive anxiety which, while brought on by exciting plans, unfortunately offers the same side effects – as well as headaches and painful stomach cramps. Looking forward to dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in ages leaves my stomach in knots, while planning a dreamy holiday in October is overshadowed by a tightness in my chest and a tingling in my fingers. If you have any tips for dealing with it, I’d love to hear!

This weekend (yoohoo Bank Holiday Monday!), I plan to get to the bottom of it all with some good meals and exercise, and get some holiday plans locked down so I can just look forward it. See you on the other side!

ORGANISATION IN THE KITCHEN

I don't think I ever got around to posting these pictures of our little kitchen nook after I shared our kitchen makeover story, but this is arguably my favourite part. I'm sure you can imagine, it's a lot messier now, especially with a couple of extra flatmates thrown into the mix!


This was the before, so you know what we were dealing with! This nook, for better want of a word, used to be an odd cupboard behind the kitchen door. It was really really deep, but one side had shelving built in so that you couldn't reach the back, and the other side became a slag heap for all sorts of odds and ends. The top part also housed the world's biggest water tank that we didn't actually need at all. Ripping out the cupboard means the kitchen feels so much more open, and made space for our washing machine, which used to take up so much cabinet space in the main part of the kitchen. Isn't the IKEA storage cart so cute?



I made sure we added a shelf for odds and ends, and I even replaced our manky old microwave with a shiny new one - it matches the cart, but it has the working capacity of a tamagochi. And, finally, I found the perfect spot for my emergency tea print by What Katie Does.

AROUND THE FLAT

I had the flat to myself for a bit a couple of weekends ago and it was bliss. What did I do? Stayed in my jammies, caught up on The Honourable Woman and ate all of the mini magnums.










A PHOTO FOR FRIDAY | 7

Bonjour! I'm spending a long weekend in the south of France, at the charming country home of one of my best friend's parents. We arrived yesterday and so far there has already been plenty of cheese and baguette, steak frites and a completely delicious duck confit that actually came out of a tin - a truly French convenience food! 

We really are in the middle of nowhere and last night I had THE BEST night's sleep. Tonight we are going to see some fireworks and, if the weather clears up, a Saturday hike in the Pyrenees is on the cards. Bon weekend! 

FRUGAL RECIPES: epic pulled pork + leftovers

While this recipe is not cheap to make from start to finish, it yields so many portions and heaps of leftovers, so per head it is really very reasonable (veggies may want to look away for this one). Pork shoulder is an amazing, inexpensive cut of meat which needs a long cooking time - this dinner is my boyfriend's speciality and he insists on at least 6 hours - definitely one for the weekend!


For the pork: choose a nice big joint as the leftovers are even tastier. Tesco recommends about 120g per person, and you can usually get a 1.2kg joint that will feed 10 for around £6. I'm slightly embarrassed to say we got 3.5kg as it was on a special offer.

Marinade for a 2kg joint:
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp smoked paprika
140g tomato ketchup
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients together, then score the skin of the pork and smother with the marinade. For extra flavour, stick a few garlic cloves in amongst the scores, if you have some. Dice two onions and scatter across the bottom of a roasting tray, then place the joint skin side up on top. Pour 200ml into the bottom of the tray, cover with tin foil and  bake at 160C in a fan oven for at least 4 hours. An hour before you're ready to eat, remove the foil and drain away all of the liquid. At this point, the meat should already be falling apart - if it's not, you might need to leave it in the oven under the foil for a bit longer. Pop back in the oven: everything will caramelise and you should get a nice crackling. When you're ready to eat, remove from the oven and shred the meat with a fork. Then mix in your preferred barbecue sauce (or homemade!) and you're good to go.

To serve: we always always make our own slaw as it's so easy and cheap and tastes so much better than the mayonnaise-y stuff you get from the supermarket. Even without a food processor, you can easily shred cabbage by finely slicing with a knife and grate carrots to get the same effect. Plus pickles - the sweet and sour sharpness perfectly cuts through the stodgy-ness of the meat, and crispy potato wedges are always a winner.

Leftovers: the best bit! We always make sure to make extra which we eat the second night running smooshed into a big white bap with melted cheese and leftover slaw. You can also serve it with lots of salad or with french fries if you're feeling extra naughty. Since our joint was made to feed more than 20 (!!), we froze individual-sized portions wrapped in tin foil in the freezer - pop one in the fridge in the morning and by the evening it will be ready to reheat in the oven with another slather of barbecue sauce for slow-cooked pulled pork any night of the week!

READING LIST: the master craftsmen

I picked up two books last month that I've been dipping in and out of at bedtime. They are both memoirs of crafts people, which always fascinates me; I'd love to have a tangible skill and this year I set myself a goal to find a couple of hobbies in the hopes of finding the thing that I'm good at.


Two Turtle Doves by Alex Monroe - Alex Monroe is one of my very favourite jewellers. Have you seen his beautifully delicate designs? His memoir flits between his childhood of tinkering away with brothers to the creation of some of his best-loved collections. It even includes some of his original sketches!

The Diary of a Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena - Beautifully written through diary entries and complex perfume formulas, this book is a year in the life of Hermes' parfumeur exclusif. Admittedly, I chose this one because of the pretty cover, but ever since I saw the movie Perfume, I've been obsessed with the layers and skill that go into creating the perfect scent.
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